Most cats have whiskers that mostly are white or light grey in color. Those are the normal colors for whiskers on most cats.
Some cat species have naturally black whiskers, but most adult cats live most of their lives with white whiskers. That does not mean those whiskers stay the same color throughout a kitty’s life.
The appearance of black whiskers on cat breeds that usually have white whiskers is fairly normal. If you are used to your cat having white whiskers and one turns black, it might cause you some alarm.
After all, a body limb that turns black is a clear indication of something very wrong that needs immediate medical attention. But that is not the case with cat whiskers.
A natural response is to wonder whether or not something is wrong with your cat. Fortunately, that is not the case when whiskers change colors.
If your beloved cat has one or more whiskers that turn black, there is no cause for alarm. Your cat most likely is going through normal changes and could just be ageing on you.
Why Are My Cat’s Whiskers Turning Black?
Cat whiskers sprout from a follicle, just like cat hairs and your own hair does. The whiskers are a type of hair and are highly sensitive. Like any hair, they are subject to changing color over time.
That is especially true if your cat is reaching its elder years and has been around for a long time. Odds are increased levels of melanin are reaching the follicle and causing the whisker to turn black.
Hair follicles contain pigments and melanin that mostly determine the color that your cat’s whiskers will become when it is born. When your cat is just a little kitten, its hairs might be gray or a grayish white as they begin to establish themselves.
As your kitten reaches adulthood, the whiskers usually become solid white and stay that way for many years. But some cat breeds do have black whiskers that usually stay that color through its adult years.
When your kitten grows and as adult cats age, the hair follicles, pigments and melanin that they contain can change. The follicles might enable more pigment and melanin to reach the root of the whisker.
That could cause one or more of your cat’s whiskers to turn black. When the pigments and melanin contained within whisker follicles change, so do the colors of those whiskers.
What Color Should Cat Whiskers Be?
Whiskers could change their colors at just about any time during a cat’s lifespan. But most cats are born with lightly colored whiskers that might appear gray or white from birth.
That general color often lasts as the kitten grows into adulthood. Most cats have white whiskers and some do have black whiskers, which is normal for the respective cat breeds.
Melanin and pigments are the dominant factors that determine hair color in cats and other mammals. Whiskers are a type of hair but are much thicker and do not access the melanin and pigments like a hair follicle would.
The lack of melanin in whisker follicles means most cats have lightly colored whiskers while they are kittens. Those whiskers usually become white when they are adults but could change to black or become gray during old age.
Some cats have more color to their whiskers that just white or black. The pigments in their whisker follicles might cause the respective whiskers to transition from a darker color to a lighter color near the tips.
Many kittens with two or more colors might have whiskers that initially transition between dark and light coloring, but those whiskers usually become white when they are adults.
Do Cat Whiskers Change Color?
Your cat is not done changing once it becomes an adult, and neither are its whiskers. The whiskers can change in length, number. The whiskers also can change in color as they cat ages and its internal chemistry changes ever so slightly over time.
When more melanin gains access to the roots in the follicles, the whiskers can change color. So cat whiskers do change color and often enough that it is not something that should concern you.
Changing whisker colors on cats is no different than what happens with humans, The process is similar to the natural changes that your own hair color goes through.
If you are male and grow whiskers, you will notice that the color of your whiskers change over time, too. That is the natural aging process at work.
The aging process for cats is similar to the aging process in humans and virtually all other mammals. Pigments and melanin help to determine our skin color and the color of our hair – including any whiskers.
The same happens with cats, and they can change the color of their whiskers as they grow and age. As the follicles for the whiskers change over time, the impact that pigments and melanin have on the color could cause them to change.
Why Does My Kitten Have Black Whiskers?
Some cats have black whiskers and they generally stay that color. Others can have whisker follicles are not as thick and strong as they will become as the kitten ages.
The lesser developed whiskers are more prone to color change due to the exposure to pigments and melanin that affect their color.
When the kitten ages, you likely will notice the whiskers are becoming lighter in color as they grow longer.
That is a clear indication that the roots are getting stronger and more capable of holding the whiskers in place. It also means fewer pigments and less melanin are getting to the whisker to make it change color.
Some cat species, though, will retain black whiskers while others might develop one or more black whiskers during its lifetime. A Bombay cat is one of the few breeds that naturally have black whiskers.
The black whiskers match the Bombay cat’s black fur coat and are a good example of how hair color could affect the color of a cat’s whiskers.
Should I Be Worried If My Cat Has Black Whiskers?
One or more black whiskers on a cat is no cause for concern. It just means your kitty has especially active pigments and melanin that can bond better with the root and affect the color.
A kitten with alternating gray and black stripes might have all-black whiskers while young or one or more whiskers that just happen to have a darker pigment than the other whiskers.
A cat with one or more black whiskers does not have an abnormality or health issues that requires the attention of a veterinarian. Instead, that cat has a subtle change in pigmentation or melanin intake that affects the one whisker.
As that change occurs, the whisker could become darker if it was white and lighter if it was dark. If your cat is an older kitty, the aging process likely is making the whisker change color.
The potential for a black whisker on a cat is similar to the potential for a black patch of hair. A cat could have alternating dark and lighter stripes and other color differences in the fur.
If the follicle is dark, the hair will be dark to match. Mostly, though, cats have either all white whiskers or all black ones during their adult years.
The appearance of black whiskers on cat breeds that normally have white whiskers might be shocking to the cats’ owners. But there is no cause for alarm because virtually all cats undergo subtle and not-so-subtle changes in appearance. If anything, recognizing a whisker has changed on your cat and taking the time to learn what it means just shows that you are a devoted pet owner and your kitty is lucky to have such a great companion.